NZ Herald Editorial picked to pieces

The NZ Herald Editorial writer, who remains conveniently anonymous, attacks Family First today.

Of course, we never expect favours from the NZ Herald Editorial. They consistently attacked changes to the anti-smacking law, but then when it passed, attacked our attempts to have a Referendum, and when the Referendum won with resounding success, they went….. silent!

So today, we expected the usual mish-mash – and got it.

Since its establishment, the Families Commission has struggled to overcome the ineffectuality often associated with such advocacy bodies. Nine years have come and gone and rarely has it succeeded in placing family values at the centre of policy discussions. Its well-meaning promotion of the virtues of the likes of two-parent family and parental responsibility has tended to be lost in the hubbub.

Please show evidence that they have promoted either of these two

But this week the commission’s profile received a well-merited boost when it raised its voice against Bob McCoskrie, whose Family First group paints itself as an equally fierce defender of conservative family values.

Profile up because flawed ideology challenged? Is that good?

If the irony in the two going toe to toe was inescapable, so was the patent good sense in the commission’s defence of yesterday’s White Ribbon Day, which it co-ordinates with a taxpayer-funded budget of $350,000.

Having spent $350,000, you’d have to defend it :-)

Mr McCoskrie had said he would not wear a ribbon because he did not believe domestic violence should be treated as a gender issue. “If we want to tackle family violence, we all – men, women and children – need to pledge to stop violence towards men, women and children,” he said. “This is a family violence issue, not a gender issue.” That is sophistry of a high order.

Sophistry = a false argument. But wait for it – they go on to agree with it!

Of course, women are sometimes responsible for domestic violence. And, of course, every form of violence is unacceptable, no matter the gender of the victim or the perpetrator. But this hardly justifies Mr McCoskrie’s attempted deconstruction of the fact that it most commonly, and most harmfully, involves male perpetrators and female victims.

So they’re saying I’m right – but I’m wrong. Brilliant

The 3500-plus convictions that are recorded against New Zealand men for assaults on women each year tell their own story. So, too, do the 10 New Zealand women who, on average, are killed by their partners or former partners each year.

But even their own coverage yesterday showed that almost 40% of this type of violence had men as the victim!! And there’s plenty more factual evidence and research quoted further down.

Mr McCoskrie’s assault was the more misguided in that it was aimed at a campaign that, as the Families Commission’s Carl Davidson said, has proved effective “not only for raising awareness of family violence generally but also increasing the number of people prepared to do something about it”. It is about men taking responsibility for their role in violence and resolving to be part of the solution by examining their attitude towards women and challenging the behaviour of other men.

No problem with that – but remember, the campaign is about family violence.

It works because men respond better to messages about men from other men. The commission’s view that it and other anti-violence campaigns have played a significant role in tolerance of family violence being at an all-time low and reporting at a record high seems perfectly reasonable.

So because reporting rates of family violence are going through the roof, that’s a good thing? Maybe, just maybe, our rates are continuing to get worse – as with child abuse. When reporting rates go down, will the Families Commission admit that tolerance for family violence is going back up?

By any yardstick, it is $350,000 well spent. As might be expected, Women’s Refuge took an even more scathing view. Its chief executive, Heather Henare, said she was surprised that Mr McCoskrie had even considered wearing a white ribbon. Family First’s opposition to the reform of the smacking law meant that it would have been “gross hypocrisy” for him to have made a public statement against violence by wearing a ribbon.

Yawn! Smacking the bum of a naughty child ain’t violence, Heather. 87% of NZ’ers already have figured that one out!! And it’s interesting that the Herald didn’t label Henare’s argument as ‘sophistry’!

That may be harsh. But Mr McCoskrie does himself no favours when he adopts such immoderate attitudes.

Defined as “not moderate; exceeding just or reasonable limits; excessive; extreme.” Obviously in the eyes of the beholder, especially when our view is backed by facts. And Heather is maybe harsh – I’m immoderate? Go figure!

He was, as the commission suggested, fairly much a lone voice.

Really? We’ve been inundated with messages of support – predominantly from women. See just a few of the examples

Indeed, he succeeded only in casting the Families Commission in a far more positive light. Thus encouraged, it should step forward more often and provide a balanced and well-reasoned perspective on family issues.

Why hasn’t the Herald dealt with the facts that I highlighted in the original Op-Ed?

“The Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, found that men and women are equally to blame in dishing out domestic violence and both suffer similar degrees of mental harm. And that’s backed up by government statistics. Ministry of Justice statistics from 2007 show that the prevalence rate for confrontational offences by a partner in 2005 was virtually the same for men and women. Their 2003 report said there was “little difference between women and men in the proportion saying they had experienced violence at the hands of their current partners in 2000”.

And this isn’t just a kiwi trend. In the UK, data from the Home Office statistical bulletins show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2005 and 2009. In Australia, a University of Queensland study of newly-wed couples showed that female violence is at least as common as male violence, with the most usual patterns being female-only violence, followed by both partners being violent. In the USA, a 2010 report from California State University examined 275 scholarly investigations, 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses with an aggregate sample size exceeding 365,000. It demonstrated that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men. The Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire found that the overall rates of violence for cohabiting couples was twice as high and the overall rate for “severe” violence was nearly five times as high for cohabiting couples when compared with married couples.

To Mr or Mrs Anonymous at the NZ Herald. Stop hiding and debate the facts.

NZ Herald Opinion 26 Nov 2011
Since its establishment, the Families Commission has struggled to overcome the ineffectuality often associated with such advocacy bodies. Nine years have come and gone and rarely has it succeeded in placing family values at the centre of policy discussions. Its well-meaning promotion of the virtues of the likes of two-parent family and parental responsibility has tended to be lost in the hubbub. But this week the commission’s profile received a well-merited boost when it raised its voice against Bob McCoskrie, whose Family First group paints itself as an equally fierce defender of conservative family values.

If the irony in the two going toe to toe was inescapable, so was the patent good sense in the commission’s defence of yesterday’s White Ribbon Day, which it co-ordinates with a taxpayer-funded budget of $350,000. Mr McCoskrie had said he would not wear a ribbon because he did not believe domestic violence should be treated as a gender issue. “If we want to tackle family violence, we all – men, women and children – need to pledge to stop violence towards men, women and children,” he said. “This is a family violence issue, not a gender issue.”

That is sophistry of a high order. Of course, women are sometimes responsible for domestic violence. And, of course, every form of violence is unacceptable, no matter the gender of the victim or the perpetrator. But this hardly justifies Mr McCoskrie’s attempted deconstruction of the fact that it most commonly, and most harmfully, involves male perpetrators and female victims.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10768792